Designing a game to resemble another very popular game is a subject of great discussion in this business. On one hand, there’s nothing new under the sun. Everything is inspired by something. Everything is incremental. On the other, there’s a very obvious—if not easy to draw—line that separates “inspired by” and “clone of.” Blast Zone! Tournament tap dances on that line aggressively.
There’s no angle you can look at BZT from where it doesn’t look like Bomberman. This isn’t something Victory Lap Games is hiding. Even the embryonic version of this game, Blast Buddies, was meant to be a Bomberman experience in a place you’d probably never see Bomberman: Facebook. When Kabam brought it to mobile in 2014, it was providing an experience that would be hard to find outside of Japan on mobile. Filling a consumer need could be a good argument for copying so closely.
But what exactly does BZT have to offer to the formula when it’s competing directly with modern Bomberman games on consoles?
A Familiar Bomb
BZT takes almost every mechanic from the series that inspired it and uses it in some approximation. It does almost nothing new with it, which can be a good thing for people who’ve played Bomberman in the past. No need for tutorialization, just about everything will be recognizable after a match or two.
For those who need to learn the ropes, the single player mode does a thorough job of showing them to you. With 20 levels across four worlds, and three different difficulties each, you’ll have plenty to do there. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly boring, and can oftentimes be frustrating. Some boss fights can put you up against some completely ridiculous numbers of enemies, and one death sends you back to the restart screen.
A Crowded Blast Zone
You are completely better off just skipping to the meat on this bone: the multiplayer. The mad bombing frenzy in PvP can be fun and rewarding, when kept in certain bounds. One of the biggest differences between BZT and Bomberman is that multiplayer can feature up to 32 different players at once. That gets incredibly messy and overly chaotic. You never feel like you’re doing anything but running in circles and hoping half of the field dies early.
But even at smaller, more manageable groups like 8 or 16, things can still get lost. The visual style of this game is overly generic. Some of the backgrounds of the Jungle and Disco worlds look great in stills. In motion, they often mute and distract from the action. Bombs and obstacles can sometimes get lost in the environments. When using special abilities like kicking bombs down lanes, I wish there was a more satisfying visual/audio affirmation for such an act. Having a better way to determine your avatar’s facing just by looking at them would go a long way too.
Less Bang, Less Bucks
Speaking of avatars, there are loot boxes you can earn and open with credits (also earnable) which are filled with costumes and other unlockables to customize it with. The possibly good news is that there are no microtransactions in BZT. Playing is the only way to earn the currency to unlock these things. The bad news is that the avatars and much of the costume offerings are dull. Mix that with the generic Rocket League-esque pump-up music, and the entire presentation of BZT leaves much to be desired.
It also seems oddly designed like a free-to-play game, with character levels that ultimately just land you more gear, and lots of opportunities to spin the wheel for collectibles. They’re leftover design concepts from earlier versions of this game that were actually free-to-play. But this lacks that “premium polish” feel. Every time you linger on the main menu, you feel like the DLC shoe is just waiting to drop to fill this game up with some more interesting things. Whether its a true detraction or not, it doesn’t do the overall presentation any favors.
That said, for the budget price, there could be room on your digital shelf for Blast Zone! Tournament. At its core, you can get mostly the same experience out of it. I don’t know the reasons why you wouldn’t just spring for the real thing, but I don’t judge. So long as you are willing to get over the strange music and art choices, and can work around how they can adversely affect your play, you can absolutely get something from BZT.
Blast Zone! Tournament review code provided by the publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PS4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.